William C. Rodgers
Bill Rodgers a.k.a. Avalon (died December 21, 2005), co-proprietor of the Catalyst Infoshop in Prescott, Arizona, USA, was one of six environmental activists arrested December 7, 2005 as part of the FBI's Operation Backfire. He was charged with one count of arson for a June, 1998 fire set by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) at the National Wildlife Research Center in Olympia, Washington. He was found dead in his jail cell on December 21, 2005. According to police, Rodgers committed suicide using a plastic bag.
The FBI has claimed that Rodgers was a criminal "mastermind" and the anonymous author of Setting Fire with Electrical Timers, an Earth Liberation Front Guide, which explained in detail how to create an incendiary device known as a "cat's cradle". Authorities said that once the guide was published they no longer were able to tell with certainty when the ELF cell connected to Rodgers was responsible for an arson.
To my friends and supporters to help them make sense of all these events that have happened so quickly: Certain human cultures have been waging war against the Earth for millennia. I chose to fight on the side of bears, mountain lions, skunks, bats, saguaros, cliff rose and all things wild. I am just the most recent casualty in that war. But tonight I have made a jail break—I am returning home, to the Earth, to the place of my origins. Bill, 12/21/05 (the winter solstice.)
Many activists blamed two co-operating witnesses for Rodgers' arrest, both of whom are alleged to have been very close friends and members of the same ELF cell as Rodgers and agreed to become informants for the FBI.
Rodgers has had a continuing impact on various anarchist and radical environmentalist movements. A number of acts have been dedicated to his memory. Among these have been the removal of 28 beagle puppies from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Independent University of Madrid and the burning of a partially constructed development in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Avalon first adopted deep ecology style thinking and engaged in Earth First activism at Mt. Graham telescope project protests of early 1990's in Arizona. He lived out of his Toyota 4x4 as he traveled North America's wild lands and became involved in many Earth First demonstrations of that time. Avalon was one of the few long-term activists whom camped out in snow caves in central Idaho's deepest wilderness during the Cove/Mallard timber sale in the winter of 1994/1995.
His experiences and exposure in some of the last true wild lands of this planet must have further radicalized Avalon beyond the civil disobedience activism of Earth First. EF style civil disobedience was at the time was under consideration as possible terrorism by the US Congress in hearings of select subcommittees. Avalon briefly secluded himself in spring of 1995 only to reappear at the Earth First 11 month long occupation of the Warner Creek timber sale or 'Free Cascadia' in Oregon. During these times Avalon always spoke of being a witness for the defenseless and was a peaceful presence.
- "Remembering Bill Rodgers: Long Live Avalon!". Slingshot. Retrieved 2006-07-09.[dead link]
- Prosecutors portray close-knit arson team, The Seattle Times, 21 January 2006.
- Operation Backfire: The Feds Make a Monstrous Move, Green Anarchy, 24 June 2006.
- CBS4denver[dead link]
- 28 beagles rescued by ALF, Bombs and Shields, 12 January 2006.
- Anti-Sprawl ELF Action in Memory of William Rodgers, Mostly Water, 10 February 2006.
- Tree Huggers: Victory, Defeat & Renewal in the Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign. author Kathie Durbin. 1996 p269-271,288.
- Acts of ecoterrorism by radical environmental organizations: hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fifth Congress, second session, June 9, 1998